Mamoru Sakuma '49 went on from Oroville to become an attorney and pave the way for other Asian-Americans to become judges. He is one of three people who will be inducted posthumously into the Oroville Union High School District Hall of Fame on Sept. 28.
He started his long and distinguished career in the legal profession in 1950 in Sacramento.
From 1950 to 1963, Sakuma, a legal pioneer in Sacramento, was in private practice and described by his peers as a skilled trial lawyer. He was reportedly only the second Asian-American lawyer to open a private practice in Sacramento.
In 1963, then-Gov. Pat Brown appointed him as judge in the Sacramento Municipal Court and a year later as a superior court judge. He served as judge in the higher court for 21 years before retiring to private practice in 1985. He then practiced law another 20 years before formally retiring in 2005, ending his storied 55-year career as a trial lawyer and judge.
During his career, Sakuma blazed the path for Asian-American lawyers and judges. As a lawyer, he tried more than 400 bench cases, argued before the California and United States supreme courts, and mentored numerous young attorneys. He also helped usher in reforms in the grand jury selection process.
Sakuma died on Jan. 29, 2011, at age 92. For 14 days, flags at all court facilities in Sacramento flew at half-mast.
Read the full story in the Oroville Mercury-Register.